Kathleen Breen Combes in George Balanchine's Serenade. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
On Sunday, June 9 Boston Ballet principal Kathleen Breen Combes will take her final bow onstage before stepping behind the curtain into a new role: executive director of the Rhode Island–based Festival Ballet Providence. Originally from Rockville Center, New York, Combes spent three years with The Washington Ballet before joining Boston Ballet in 2003; she was promoted to principal in 2009. For her retirement performance she's dancing Paulo Arrais' ELA, Rhapsody in Blue. "It just happened to be the last thing on the program, but it worked out perfectly," says Combes. "It's me and 15 men, and it's all about female empowerment, so it felt very fitting to go out with that." Below, Combes shares what made Boston Ballet her dream company, how becoming a mother has affected her approach and why she's interested in dance administration.
Amy Herchenroether in Giselle with Saint Louis Ballet. Kelly Pratt, Courtesy Saint Louis Ballet.
It's that time of year again: recital season! Memories will be made, including some hilarious ones. (Does it even count as a recital if something funny doesn't happen?) We asked four pros to share their most humorous recital memories from their student days, from costume malfunctions to onstage bloopers.
We love it when our favorite dancers are tapped to star in other artists' projects. When Boston-based violinist and songwriter Josh Knowles started mulling over video ideas for his new single "Same," the first released song of his upcoming album this fall, he thought that two dancers silhouetted against a backlight could get the song's vulnerability across. And so he asked two of his favorites, Boston Ballet principals Lia Cirio and Paul Craig, to star in the video and commissioned former company principal Yury Yanowskyto choreograph it.
Boston Ballet in rehearsal with William Forsythe. Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
In 2016, Boston Ballet officially brought William Forsythe back to the U.S. after the revolutionary choreographer's four-decade European career. A five-year partnership with the company promises that Forsythe will add at least one piece to its repertoire each year, and it gives him an American home base for creating new work. Boston Ballet's Full on Forsythe program, March 7–17, features the world premiere of Playlist (EP), his first new ballet for an American company in more than two decades, as well as Pas/Parts 2018 and the North American premiere of Blake Works I.
This week's TBT is a three-for-one throwback special: A power trio of versatile American Ballet Theatre performers, Xiomara Reyes and siblings Erica and Herman Cornejo, dance the Act I pas de trois from Swan Lake in this 2005 video. Reyes, who now heads The Washington School of Ballet, and Herman Cornejo both became principals at ABT in 2003 and were regular partners. Erica danced at ABT as a soloist until joining Boston Ballet as a principal in 2006. In the pas de trois from Swan Lake, the three dancers' unique camaraderie, exuberance and light, bounding ballon make for a show-stopping performance.
Cirio in English National Ballet's "Manon." Photo by Laurent Liotardo, courtesy English National Ballet.
Jeffrey Cirio's meteoric rise is what dreams are made of. A Pennsylvania native, he joined Boston Ballet in 2009 and quickly rose up the ranks to principal dancer by 2012. While he felt Boston was "home," he left to join American Ballet Theatre as a soloist in 2015, where he was promoted to principal after only one year. Now, after a four-month stint as a guest artist with English National Ballet last season, this all-American boy has joined the company as a full-time lead principal. It's hard to believe he's only 27.
Just a day after his performance as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake with Alina Cojocaru last month, Cirio sat down with Pointe to give an update on his new life living and working in London.
San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung with her dressing room pal, Iggy. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.
A dancer's dressing room is often her "home away from home." We went backstage with Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio, San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung and Richmond Ballet dancer Cody Beaton to see how they personalize their space and get performance-ready.
Haley Schwan. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
Haley Schwan's artistic journey toward becoming a Boston Ballet company artist has been anything but ordinary. From the Vaganova Ballet Academy and Staatsballett Berlin to immersive theater in New York City and choreographing for the MTV Video Music Awards, Schwan has had some unusual detours. But the 26-year-old with a warm demeanor and quick smile seems to be enjoying the ride.
As a child, Schwan studied gymnastics, jazz, tap and contemporary dance in her native Michigan, before turning her focus to ballet. After a summer intensive at the Kirov Academy of Ballet at age 12, Schwan began studying there full-time until age 16, when she was invited to the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia.